Keeping Focused on Core Principles


With an increase in residential well construction, it’s important to do things right.

By Michael J. Schnieders, PG, PH-GW

In recent years there has been an increase in concerns over produced water quality, spikes in algae outbreaks among surface water resources, and continued drought in the western United States.

What does all of this mean for those of us in the groundwater industry? More than likely we will continue to see an increase in drilling operations and new well construction. However, it also means we will receive more questions from an increasingly concerned customer base.

New home construction has been strong since 2016, and with it, the industry is seeing an increase in residential well construction.

During boom times it is easy to stray away from core principles in an effort to satisfy an overly eager customer. However, during these periods of activity uptake, it is vital we take the time to do things right.

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Well Siting: Have we selected the right location for a well that limits surface and subsurface contamination, allows for growth and construction without encroaching on the wellhead, is out of the path of vehicles, animals, and accidents, and is not placed within a flood plain or hazard zone?

Construction Method: Is the method for construction the best for the well site and geology present? Will we be able to maintain the stability of the borehole during construction and repair, in as much as we can, the well setting following completion?

Materials Selection: Have we evaluated the source water quality, corrosion potential, and treatment needs to select the best materials of construction, limiting the occurrence of future problems while maintaining strength and integrity?

Development: Did we perform sufficient development to avoid trouble and create a resource? Did we use multiple methods and monitor the progress of development throughout the entire well? Did we verify the progress and success of development with water and pump testing?

Disinfection: When we disinfected the well, did we account for the groundwater chemistry, the native bacteria, anything potentially introduced during construction, account for the materials of construction, and needs of the customer? Did we avoid corrosion, double-check our dosages and contact time? Did we verify the disinfection was effective through testing?

New well construction affords us the opportunity to do things right and to start new water resources off in the right direction. Many new residential wells will be serving first-time well owners, and with major turnovers in the municipal area, the same is true for many utilities.

These customers will need education and guidance on the need for regular operation and the benefits of proactive maintenance. Time spent educating these individuals will be key to developing lifetime customers.

Each well, each location, and each customer are unique, although similarities exist. As we look to the future, we must remain focused, reviewing each of these points to ensure we are creating a truly usable resource for the client.

Michael J. Schnieders, PG, PH-GW, is a professional geologist currently serving as the principle hydrogeologist and president of Water Systems Engineering Inc. in Ottawa, Kansas. Schnieders’ primary work involves water resource investigation and management, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of fouled well systems. Schnieders was the 2017 McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer in Water Well Technology. He can be reached at